US investigators fly to China

Beijing: US accident investigators arrived in China on Saturday to help authorities

look for clues into what caused last month's crash of a Boeing jetliner with 132 people aboard.

The seven-member team from the National Transportation Safety Board will participate in the Civil Aviation Administration of China's investigation of the March 21 crash of a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800.

As part of that assistance, the plane's cockpit voice recorder is being downloaded and analysed at a US lab in Washington, federal officials said Friday. Investigators hope the recording will explain why the plane went into a nosedive from about 8,800 metres (29,000 feet) over a mountainous region in southeastern China.

Chinese officials have said that air traffic controllers were unable to get a response from the pilots while the plane was descending. The cockpit voice recorder would pick up voices and other sounds from microphones worn by the pilots and another stationed over their heads. Searchers also recovered the plane's flight-data recorder, which constantly captures speed, altitude, heading and other information and the performance of key systems on the aircraft, but that recorder was not being evaluated in Washington on Friday.

The NTSB said its investigators will limit contact with people outside the investigation so that they can start their

work immediately without going through a quarantine period.

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